Bitterballen (beef roux croquettes)
Never thought I would ever be able to share this recipe for bitterballen, but after a lot of trial & error I am finally happy with the result. Bitterballen are a Dutch/Belgian chipper snack made from a beef roux. The outside is very similar to normal croquettes, but instead of an oblong shape these are round. They are one of my favourite snacks but they are impossible to get in Ireland. If you live in Australia though, you are in luck as there are plenty of Dutch expat shops around that do sell them.
What to look out for
Making these is not easy, at all. So much can go wrong in pretty much every step of this recipe. It all starts with the beef, I first used plain stewing beef and it was just horribly dry. My fiancé then cooked something using shin beef and I knew right away that was the beef I had to use too. Shin beef is very tough but becomes almost gelatinous when slowly cooked for a long time. I bought mine in Whelans with the bone still in it for extra flavour. I highly recommend getting yours in a butcher too so you can get it with the bone as well.
The first time I made this, I made a stock from scratch, using fresh carrots etc. The next time I decided to just use a bag of soup vegetables as it already is quite a lot of work and this shortened it a bit. However, the flavour of fresh veggies really is amazing so if you got time, slice & dice fresh carrots, leek & celery. I used 2 carrots, 1 large leek and 2 small celery sticks.
Next part then is the roux itself, it shouldn’t be too runny but shouldn’t be solid either. The first batch I made was just too runny and it never set in the fridge, making it a disaster to try and roll into balls.
And then of course there is the last part, which is the crispy outer layer. As with croquettes you want to make sure the bitterballen won’t burst when they are frying. I used golden breadcrumbs instead of panko as it’s not as coarse, but it does mean the breadcrumb layer is very thin which could easily burst. The easiest solution was to double batter them but I have seen other people go for a triple batter as well. As always, my recommendation would be to try 1 bitterbal with 2 layers, do they burst? Go for a third one (make sure to buy plenty of breadcrumbs though).
One final note. I don’t own a deep fryer myself, I only have an air fryer. I cooked these bitterballen by heating up vegetable oil in a deep but small pot (ideally you want this to be fairly high but not too wide). And cooked them in batches like that. The biggest downside is that the temperature might be too hot or too cold as it’s hard to control.
|500g shin beef (also called shank) with bone|
|320g soup vegetables or a mix of carrots, leek, celery|
|1 large onion|
|2-3 Oxo beef stock cubes|
|4 bay leaves|
|3 fresh rosemary twigs|
|3fresh thyme twigs|
|150g plain flour|
|3 gelatine leaves|
|175ml double cream|
|1 egg yolk|
|350g dried breadcrumbs|
|5 eggs or more, it all depends on the size of the bitterballen and how many layers you go for|
|10tbsp flour at least|